Last week, we set off in search of time out from hectic, sometime frazzled lives in the Holy City. Some 2 hours later, we arrived at the gate of The Castle in Kerem Maharal, an 11th Century Crusader castle, nestling within a moshav of the same name, deep within the Hof Harcarmel forest, between Haifa and Zichron Yaakov.
This spectacular squat and imposing pile is lovingly tended by artist Udi Stoler and his craftswoman partner Tsilla Martin, who have resurrected the castle from near rubble over 27 years of painstaking, and probably back-breaking, labour.
Ensconced in one of the 2 guest suites, with a fire alight in the pot-belly stove, cares dissolved. It could have been the complimentary local wine from the Amphorae Winery, or the clear air from being so high and having such far-reaching views across the forest. We slept deeply, secure against any type of invader within the foot-thick walls.
Udi displays his paintings liberally throughout the castle, and has also made most of the furniture, from local stone and wood, and made in the couple’s local factory. He has a great eye for detail; the use of earthy colours within mix with the greens, browns and blues without.
A wonderful optional breakfast of local specialities of fish and cheese complimented our stay, and set us up to discover the local beach. The Castle’s cat and dog are great assets to the environment too! The whole Castle is also available for rent, and could sleep many if willing to bed down on floors, or outside in the grounds.
This would be a wonderful venue for a group retreat, for meditation, discussion, hiking, or a large family event – maybe even a Green Prophet gathering ?
I recommend a stay at The Castle at Kerem Maharal to wholly recharge & reinvigorate.